Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Charlotte Mason Moments: Curricula Planning

I don't know 'bout you, but in my house, Tax Time means books for Momma!  Umm, I mean books for school.  Yes, that's right...books for MOMMA's school!  

Tax Time also means that I gotta get my act together, and swiftly, in order to be ready for that refund in spring.  It's not as though I buy all the books as early as the first signs of dew, but I like to have the ones we'll be using for fall's term as soon as I can get my grubby paws on them, because I READ them-all of them, before I hand them off to my babes.  And, I really try to make book purchases by term as to not overwhelm the husb'd with boxes upon boxes of books, as well as a desperate craigslist search for cases for said books.  I am providing a private school education, but I gotta keep it under private school tuition or the headmaster will flip.

Plus, this year, I'm planning for four.  

Let's observe a moment of silence to cry ((sniff)).  

Planning for four is a bittersweet exercise for me.  On one hand, my baby is no longer a baby, and on the other hand, it will be the first year that I won't have anyone nursing, crawling, or toddling about, to get in the way of a sweet preschool time with him.  I'm really looking forward to it, although I still have no idea what I will use!  You see, as I just said, I have never really had time for a preschool.  So, if anyone has suggestions or reviews of products that worked for them, please, please, please share!  

As not to overwhelm, I'm planning and posting in small bits, which are better for chewing and digestion.  Let's keep it safe, y'all: I am not certified in virtual CPR.

As I've confessed previously and often, I am always modifying Ambleside Online's Core Curriculum to suit my and my children's fancies.  Although I include all facets of AO, such as Artist and Composer Studies, Nature Lessons, Shakespeare, Plutarch's Lives, Poet Study, Hymns and Folksongs Recitation, and Handicrafts, in addition to its core, I modify them to suit...let's say it fancy.

So, over the course of several weeks, I'll be posting what resources I use for these studies and how I use them, before I share the courses and books for my individual babes.  It's my hope that by the time I get to Superman, I'll have a preschool clue.  Here goes:

Composer Study
I found this fantastic book online last summer, called The World's Great Men of Music by Harriet Brower, and this is how I use it:
  • I started from the beginning with Palestrina.
  • I divide each short biography into twelve portions, which we read weekly.
  • I do require some narration, whether oral or picture, and the composer finds his place (birth, marriage, music, death) in our Book of Centuries, too.
  • Through iTunes, I purchase an album, containing the most prominent (objective) and/or important (debatable) works by the composer.
  • After reading the week's biography portion, we listen to a chosen selection, and again throughout the week, during our Quiet Time.
  • Sometimes I ask questions about how the music makes them feel, or what the composer seems to be communicating, but, usually, they will tell me these things without prompting, especially my Sassafras, who is often and easily moved to tears by music.
Next school year, we're studying Christoph Willibald Gluck, Josef Haydn, and Wolfgang Mozart.

Artist Study
I find it easier to follow Ambleside's selections, since one of its members offers affordable art prints for the term's artist, but I do supplement [read: modify] with this fantastic find, using it very much like World's Greatest Musicians: Pictures Every Child Should Know by Dolores Bacon.
  • Again, I divide each short biography into twelve portions, reading one portion weekly.
  • I require narration and we Book him.
  • I purchase the prints through AO's website, hanging the one to be studied ((4 weeks each print)) on the wall in our kitchen.
  • We pointedly study the selection weekly, but the kids talk about the artist and print often without prompting.  Keeping the print in a high traffic area, or an area where you spend a lot of time, helps.
  • We learn about the medium used (watercolors, pastels, etc.), and try our hand with it, too.
  • If the kids are particularly interested in the artist, I find a local museum that has an original, for an end-of-term field trip.  Who am I kidding?  I drag them to the museum whether or not they show a fancy because I love art museums.
Next school year: Raphael, John Singer-Sargent, and Claude Monet.

So, how do you study composers and artists?  What resources have you discovered and loved?  Are you as book-freaky as I?


  1. Whoa.

    Can we Vulcan mind-meld? I want some organization motivation for myslef. Way too organized for your own good.

    Organization is actually the #1 killa of chicanas. Better chill!


  2. And here I thought chicanos were the #1 killer of chicanas; well, thats what my grandmother repeatedly told me, at least.

    It's not a big deal, really. My small ideas just take up a lot of bloggy space. But, we can try the mind-melding in spring for kicks. What season of BSG are we gonna sport??

  3. Great resources! Thanks for sharing your ideas. AO has often stumped me because we aren't in the same "place" as they are. It's nice to see how you modify it.


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